The Zoroastrian Afterlife

Mazdayasna/Zoroastrianism doesn’t have set funerary rites across the board, but the three most popular forms are the sky ceremony (towers of silence), cremation, and normal burial (with a special encased coffin). These are due to a traditional belief that death is representative of decay and therefore we must not allow the pollution of the Earth. However, due to advances in science, discussions in the Zoroastrian communities have advanced the idea that any funerary rite that is environmentally friendly is welcome, with the sky ceremony being still viewed as being the most compassionate.

As to the afterlife, if we get very metaphysical here, it is viewed that your soul (urvan) unites with your guardian spirit/higher form (fravashi) from which it split and all of your experiences in the material realm embolden and aid in the cosmic spiritual battle against the Daeva. This unification and blessing are accorded to you because, as a conscious being, you are a lesser divinity amongst the Yazata (unless you’ve chosen to be a Daeva, which, well, good luck with that), a co-maintainer of Asha with Ahura Mazda. There is an idea of judgment before this moment, but there is a division as to what happens exactly. It all comes down to your choices, as Zoroastrianism is a religion that places emphasis on personal responsibility and free choice.

It is believed that you arrive at the Chivnat Bridge (Bridge of Judgement), where your free actions are surveyed and judged by the Yazata Mithra of the Covenants, Rashnu of Justice, and Sraosha of Conscience. If you’ve proven yourself to have been a saoshyant (one who brings benefit) or even just a good person in the material realm, you are conveyed across the bridge by Sraosha to the House of Song where you take your rightful place as a Yazata in unification with Ahura Mazda. If you’ve chosen to ally to the Daeva or through your actions have become one, you go to the House of Lies and are led there by the Daeva Vizaresh, where you’ll suffer in your ignorance and malice with your foolish attempt to fight the Yazata and Ahura Mazda.

If you just need some quick purification, this happens either through immersion in divine molten metal to strip away your inequities or through reincarnation (the latter is a minority opinion mostly amongst the Ilm-e-Khshnoom). Either way, the Daeva will be defeated eventually through our efforts in the Material and Spiritual realms towards the frashokereti (the making perfect of existence) and even they will be purified in the molten metal and brought into unity with Ahura Mazda as the Wise One is all good and would not leave even those that have declared themselves the Wise One’s enemies to suffer. Of course, the above is just metaphysical extrapolation of what might happen in the afterlife, but all Zoroastrians know that what matters most is our actions in the here and now.